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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The old gang (Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, & others) are back for more quirky fun in India as Sonny (Dev Patel) prepares for his upcoming wedding and expanding his hotel dreams. Richard Gere is the perfect addition to this talented ensemble cast of characters, each with own funny tale interwoven into the storyline. If you are among the many that loved the first film, Alien doesn't think you'll be disappointed with this sequel that has all the same humor & charm as these individuals search to find love and fulfill their dreams. Embedded into this wonderful movie are interesting Indian sites, colorful people, unique culture, and an energetic Bollywood dance number.

Alien gives it 3 ½ "at any age, the adventure can begin" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Lazarus Effect

It's "Flatliners" meets "Re-animator" meets "Lucy" when medical students run unauthorized experiments on doggie cadavers seeking to prolong lives of coma patients. Of course, when a freak accident occurs, the group is forced to use the Lazarus serum on one of their own. This supernatural horror flick is brought to you by the makers of "Paranormal Activities", "Insidious", & "Sinister". It's very genre predictable. Olivia Wilde is the big name draw. If you are a fan of the genre, you'll want to see it no matter if someone says it's good or bad. It's not particularly scary. Of course, it is sequel set upped but only box office numbers and DVD sales will determine if the film has a "Lazarus Effect" of its own. Odd note: Apparently, there are no cell phones in this fantasy world.

Alien gives it 2 "Don't f*ck with Mother Nature" stars out of 4.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Boyhood

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

Follow the life of Mason for 12 years as he grows up to be a young adult. He lives a fairly typical and mundane existence with an older sister and divorced parents (Patricia Arquette & Ethan Hawke). This remarkable film is was shot over the course of actual 12 years giving it a kind of family home movie quality. The politics, music, pop culture, and events of the day are interwoven into the storyline. You can feel the emotional pains of growing up.

Alien gives it 3 "finding yourself" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

After a 5 year hiatus, those "Back to the Future" hot tub time travelers are back on the big screen in a "Who Shot JR?" scenario. Some say this sequel better than the original but Alien only thought it was raunchier and more obnoxious. Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, & Clark Duke repeat their roles from the original. John Cusack must have wisely opted out. It's outrageous moronic humor with time travel effects explained with mere references to "Terminator", "Looper", & "Fringe". By the end, our hot tubbers realize personal financial gain isn't the solution and go into "Time Tunnel" mode back through history. Someone needs to use this special hot tub to go back in time to prevent this annoying sequel from happening. But if you have a crude sense of humor, you'll probably be laughing your head off.

Alien gives it 1 ½ "alternate universes" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

McFarland USA

It's "Spare Parts" meets "Friday Nights Lights" when a new hire high school teacher (Kevin Costner) with a questionable past decides to start a cross country running team enlisting 7 boys from migrant worker families. Based on a true story, it's a fish out of water setup as this Caucasian family experiences culture shock in this little Hispanic farming town. Also it's a little engine who could tale where these poor kids with little future learn to believe in themselves and work as a team against some long odds. It's a wonderful family film with great heart that's also about community and breaking stereotypes. At the film's end, a clip runs revealing the real people portrayed and where they are now.

Alien gives it 3 "pickers & runners" stars out of 4.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Still Alice

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

It's Alzheimers 101 when an intelligent articulate college professor (Julianne Moore)
learns she has early onset Alzheimers and tries to maintain her once normal life. She and her family (Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Kristen Steward, and Hunter Parrish) face the harsh realities of this debilitating disease. Moore is exceptional in this role with a terrific supporting cast. This is a sad but informative film detailing the emotional feelings of those effected. 

Alien gives it 3 "butterfly file" stars out of 4.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Focus

It's "The Grifters" meets "The Gambler" meets "The Sting" when a veteran con man (Will Smith) takes on a new intern (Margot Robbie). Together with some accomplices they skillful bilk millions from unsuspecting marks. Smith's & Robbie's characters develop a mutual attraction to give the plot a little romantic spin. This is a fun film if you like figuring out deception schemes. If you listen during the credits, you may recognize the 1968 Oscar winning theme song from another caper movie, "The Thomas Crown Affair".

Alien gives it 3 "the long con, the little blind mouse, & the inside man" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey

Handcuffs, whips, and cable ties... oh my!

It's S&M 101 when Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) introduces Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) to his secret world behind the locked door of his red room of pain. Dornan & Johnson seem perfectly cast for their roles. There is a chemistry and a heavy sexual tension between them that has to be diffused with some light humor.  This well crafted film is a romance novel with sexually deviant behavior that's more hype & curiosity draw than story value. The explicit S&M scenes trimmed to ""R" rating standards are non-erotic and disturbing unless you are into it. It's probably a better ladies night out film than a date flick. The movie is mostly a tease and may leave some frustrated and yearning for more to come  in the next 2 sequels.

Alien gives it 3 "non-disclosure contract" stars out of 4.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Black or White

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

A custody battle between a white grandpa (Kevin Costner) and a black grandma (Octavia Spencer) is at the center of this touching film about two families' love and pain. Two broken men, each with their own addiction, are on opposite sides of this tug of war. Costner & Spencer are perfectly cast for their roles. Although the film is predictable and a bit sanitized, it's entertaining family drama that will leave you with a warm feeling. The movie plays is safe by avoiding controversy and emphasizing the welfare of the child.

Alien gives it 3 "best intentions at heart" stars out of 4.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Seventh Son (3D IMAX)

It's spooks vs witches in the typical battle between good and evil. Jeff Bridges is apparently the last spook (kind of a medieval Jedi knight) and Julianne Moore is the queen of the witches (think Maleficent dragon transforming powers with good & bad witches  à la Wizard of Oz). Being the last knight, of course he must have an apprentice to mentor although none seem to survive so far. He chooses the seventh son of a seventh son as his next possible successor. The special effects, not unlike Transformers: Age of X-stink-shun, is mind-numbing spectacular. The rest is rather shallow and transparent; a Romeo/Juliette romance, some family secrets, and a magic amulet. It's a predictable ending with hopes of making enough money to spawn a sequel.

Alien gives it 2 ½ "dragon witches" stars out of 4.

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